October 13, 2014
Terry Pegula, the new Buffalo Bills owner, pauses during his opening remarks, as he speaks about his respect for the late Ralph Wilson during a news conference at the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse in Orchard Park, N.Y., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gary Wie
Gary Wiepert

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres are already hosting the NHL's annual pre-draft scouting combine in each of the next two years. Now, they're getting the 2016 draft.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman formally announced Buffalo's selection at a news conference shortly before the Sabres' home game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday afternoon.

''Awarding the 2016 NHL draft to Buffalo honors the passion of its fans for our sports and reflects the commitment Terry and Kim Pegula to the Sabres and to Buffalo,'' Bettman said, referring to the Sabres owners.

Bettman said that awarding the draft to Buffalo also builds on the growing buzz taking place in the city after the Pegulas completed their purchase of the NFL Buffalo Bills last week.

''They're great owners,'' Bettman said. ''The fact that they have so invested themselves in Buffalo and the Buffalo sports scene is great news for the city.''

It will mark the third time Buffalo will be home to the league's annual draft. The Sabres previously hosted the draft in 1991 and `98.

The draft is scheduled for June 24 and 25, 2016.

Aside from Montreal, which was home to the draft from 1963-'84, Buffalo will become the NHL's first market to hold the event more than twice. Next year's draft will be held in Sunrise, Florida.

The timing of the announcement further boosts Buffalo's reputation as a major North American hockey market.

In August, the NHL selected Buffalo to host the next to rookie combines, which had previously been exclusively held in suburban Toronto. Buffalo has played host to two of the past three USA Hockey All-American Prospects games.

Next month, the Pegulas' privately financed $172 million two-rink hockey/entertainment complex called HarborCenter is scheduled to open across the street from the Sabres' downtown arena.

''When Terry and Kim came here three-and-a-half years ago, we wanted to transform Buffalo into a premier hockey destination,'' Sabres president Ted Black said. ''And I think we're at a tipping point. A lot of the heavy lifting has taken place, and it's wonderful to see the efforts the Pegula family has made to push it over the goal line.''

And Black added, ''It's not over yet.''

The Sabres have also said they intend to bid for the right to host the 2018 World Junior Hockey championships after previously hosting the event in 2011.

Bettman hinted the Sabres could be due an outdoor game, after they successfully hosted the first outdoor regular-season game in the United State at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. He also suggested the Sabres should submit a bid to host an NHL all-star game.

The Sabres estimate the draft will create about $9.2 million in economic impact for the city.

''This announcement is a confirmation of the great vision of Terry and Kim Pegula, who have set out to make Buffalo one of the best places in the world for hockey, from peewee to professional,'' Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.

Bettman credited the Terry Pegula for his commitment to Buffalo in owning the Sabres, and now the Bills.

''My first reaction when I heard that he was interested was the NFL would be lucky have him,'' Bettman said. ''He's a terrific owner and I know how committed he is to Buffalo.''

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